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Life Without Lights - The Reaction List

Posted by Naomi Schoenfeld on

Those of us who know our family, know we have chosen to live without electric -- or any artificial -- light.

One of the first and biggest questions one encounters in making the shift away from artificial light is this -- how much to share with others?

Like many important life choices, talking about it all the time is tempting, but that's tedious for those around you. On the other hand, this particular choice does affect other people often enough that something has to be said. Heading out of lighted areas at dusk, in a society where most socializing happens after dark, takes either far too many white lies or a genuine explanation.

So, I opt for the simple, brief explanation.

What happens next is where things get funny. Generally speaking, people are incredibly nice about it - supportive, thoughtful, interested, looking for ways to accommodate - except, that what it actually means to be skipping the artificial light seems to go... well, right over their heads and off into the mists of obscurity.

For your enjoyment, I bring you the most frequent reactions I've enountered thus far:

1) Scenario One: So long as you can see a sliver of darkness somewhere...

Me: I'd better go. Sunset soon, and I'm trying to stay away from electric lights.
Them: That's so neat! Let's sit outside where it's dark.. I'll just turn on the porch light for us.

2) Scenario Two: If it's portable it doesn't count. 

Me: Thanks for being so understanding! A nature walk at dusk /does/ sound like a great way to hang out without electric lights.
Them: No problem! I have friends who live off the land, so I get it. Let me just grab my mega-wattage flashlight for us -- it's getting dark out here.

3) Scenario Three: It's not artificial light if someone else turns it on.

Me: How about we meet earlier? That electric lights thing I mentioned, remember?
Them: Right - forgot about that. Why don't we go somewhere where it'll be light, but not /your/ lights? Like a restaurant or something? Or I can just flip the switch for you, and turn it off before I go.

I've yet to come across a single instance with other people involved, where I didn't have to compromise or avoid. Even folks who I could have /sworn/ would get it. Kind of mind-boggling, really, and a statement not about the people, but about the extent to which electric lights have become ubiquitous to modern life.

(Update -- woot! We found people! Awesome people we've had to dinner not once, but twice, and who not only took our lighting in stride as we lit the evening candles, but relaxed and enjoyed it with us. What a great feeling, and a great gift.) 

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